Two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies were struck by gunfire and a suspect was dead following a shooting incident in an East L.A. park Wednesday evening, officials said.
Both deputies were in serious but stable condition at the hospital following a shootout involving at least three suspects at Ruben F. Salazar Park, on the 3800 block of Whittier Boulevard, according to Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
The fatal confrontation occurred as officials were investigating a report of a man with a gun that came in around 6:15 p.m. about seven blocks away from the park, Capt. Darren Harris said in a press briefing.
The information relayed to sheriff’s officials indicated the individual was pointing a gun at passersby from a vehicle, Harris said.
Two deputies responded in separate units and located a car matching the description provided of the suspect vehicle. They then tracked it to Salazar Park, where the deputies were coordinating with each other in anticipation of conducting a traffic stop, the captain said.
But before they could pull it over, the car stopped on its own volition and the occupants emerged, according to Harris.
An exchange of gunfire Harris described as “very dynamic” ensued. It’s unclear how many of the suspects were armed, but Harris said they began shooting first.
Both deputies were struck once in their upper torso, McDonnell said. He was unsure whether they were equipped with bulletproof vests.
“This was a gunfight out there tonight, from what I’ve been told,” the sheriff said. “These deputies did just an amazing job in taking care of what they were confronted with at that point.”
— Jim McDonnell (@LACoSheriff32) September 20, 2018
They were subsequently taken by other deputies to the LAC+USC Medical Center, where officials were optimistic about their conditions.
“It looks pretty good, so we’re hopeful there’s no complications and they make a speedy recovery,” Harris said.
McDonnell described the men as “seasoned deputies” at the East L.A. station who have been with the department more than 10 years. He added that their families were by their side Wednesday night.
The suspect who was struck by gunfire died at the scene.
Aerial video from Sky5 showed his body, covered in a green sheet, lay not far from a black BMW. The car had a rear passenger window blown out, beneath which sat a pool of blood.
A second suspect was also injured, and both that person and a third suspect were in custody. The injured suspect was also hospitalized, but Harris said officials were still working to determine the nature and cause of that person’s injuries.
Although authorities had initially said a fourth suspect remained at large, they later said they were no longer considering a fourth suspect to be involved.
“If we get additional leads that lead to a fourth suspect or more, we’ll follow up on those leads,” Harris said. “If you’re going to shoot two of our deputy sheriffs, then we’re going to follow every lead to find out who was involved in this and hold them accountable under the law.”
Aerial video from Sky5 showed a large law enforcement presence investigating the scene late Wednesday evening.
A fire engine, three marked sheriff’s vehicles and what appeared to be an unmarked sheriff’s car were parked on the grass alongside a sedan that looked like a BMW.
By 9 p.m., Harris said the agency was moving on from the tactical response and into a “very lengthy” investigation of the incident. The public was asked to avoid the area of Salazar Park, as law enforcement activity was expected to continue through the night.
KTLA’s Nidia Becerra and Matt Phillips contributed to this report.
— LASD Lancaster Stn. (@LANLASD) September 20, 2018